NCAA champion University of Illinois
© Jessi Dalton

NORMAN, Okla., April 20, 2012 – The University of Illinois won the NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships team title tonight with a score of 358.850 at the Lloyd Noble Center on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. The win marked the Illini’s first title since 1989. The host Oklahoma Sooners posted 357.450 for second, followed by Penn State with 354.800.

In the final rotation, Oklahoma and Illinois battled it out on the high bar and still rings, respectively. C.J. Maestas of Corrales, N.M., anchored Illinois, nearly sticking a double-twisting, double back dismount for a 15.600. Maestas’ routine capped their 59.450 total, giving the Illini their first title in more than two decades.

Tonight’s competition also crowned the all-around champion, where Jake Dalton of Reno, Nev./University of Oklahoma, grabbed the title with a 91.000 total. Defending champion Sam Mikulak of Ann Arbor, Mich./University of Michigan, and Maestas posted matching 89.700 totals to tie for second place. All three are members of the U.S. Senior National Team.

The NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships conclude tomorrow with the individual event finals, which will stream live on, beginning at 7 p.m. CT.

In the first rotation, Oklahoma stormed to the lead posting a 60.950 floor exercise total on the heels of Dalton’s routine, which included an Arabian double layout mount for 15.750. Senior National Team member Paul Ruggeri of Manlius, N.Y., kept the Illini close, nearly sticking a Yurchenko half-on to front double full for a 15.550 as part of Illinois’ 60.100 team total.

After rotation two, Penn State took the lead, posting a 59.55 on the vault, followed by Illinois, who posted a 59.800 on the parallel bars behind Ruggeri’s 15.250. The Sooners moved to the pommel horse where they posted a 58.350 total, putting them in third after two events.

Oklahoma reclaimed the lead in rotation three, after posting 60.200 on the rings. In the anchor spot, Dalton stuck his double-twisting, double back dismount for 15.200, electrifying the Sooner faithful on hand. Illinois remained in second place with a 59.800 total on the high bar, followed by California-Berkeley, who posted a 60.000 on the pommel horse, bolstered by a nearly flawless 15.800 from Glen Ishino of Santa Ana, Calif.

The Sooners continued to lead in rotation four, culminating in Dalton’s nearly stuck Kasamatsu double full, which earned 15.550. Oklahoma earned a 61.200 on the event, pushing them to a more than two point lead over second place Illinois. Berkeley remained in third place after four events.

In rotation five, Dalton helped keep the Sooners in the lead, closing their rotation on the parallel bars with an impressive 15.550. But, a 15.100 from Maestas helped the Illini close the gap on Oklahoma. Illinois’ 60.750 total on the pommel horse set up the exciting come from behind finish in the final rotation.

2012 NCAA Men’s National Championships
Lloyd Noble Center
Norman, Okla.
April 20, 2012

1. Illinois, 358.850
2. Oklahoma, 357.450
3. Penn State, 354.800

1. Jake Dalton, Reno, N.V./University of Oklahoma, 91.000
2t. Sam Mikulak, Ann Arbor, Mich./Universtiy of Michigan, 89.700
2t. C.J. Maestas, Corrales, N.M./University of Illinois, 89.700